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Totally 80's Screentone Album Cover

Sara Richard | May 8, 2017

Learn how to use IC Screentones to create awesome 80's themed art! Sara Richard explores how to create an authentic original piece of art with this easy-to-follow screentone tutorial. 



  • Acrylic Paints: Liquitex and Golden, Americana and Blick
  • Ink Pens: Faber Castel, Sharpie 
  • Gel Pens: Gely Roll and Unibal
  • Signo
  • X-Press It Graphite Paper
  • Canson Illustration Board
  • IC Screens: Y1534, Y1248, Y1545, Y1510
  • Spoon (for brushing I-C to illustration board)
  • X-Acto Blade
  • Ruler
  • Spray Fixative
  • Modge Podge (or other paint on clear sealers)

As a traditional artist I've always admired the awesome patterns and textures used in 80's art. IC Screentone seemed to be the perfect fit to keep a strictly hand-done approach to this.

Step 1: Painting 

The painting is the foundation that the pretty sweet IC Screens house will be built on. So, like most of my pieces, I'll doodle up a rough sketch. I scan that in and print out a faded version to put tighter pencils over. The faded (lowered opacity) print out of the doodle is in itself a foundation, much like an artist would use blue pencils to lay out a drawing. Then I just tighten up the drawing and scan those pencils back in. I print a copy of that scan out as a transfer page (so I can keep the page of clean pencils) and use pen to go over the lines of the print out for transferring throughX-Press It graphite paper onto the illustration board. 


I then have the pencils on my illustration board and can start painting. To get the sort of "glitter" effect a lot of my pieces have, I use a very plastic-like acrylic and splatter white dots over the graphite. I let that dry (I use a hairdryer to speed this all up). Acrylic painted over top of it will repel over some of the white and it will show through. I use very watered down acrylics in an sort of watercolor application. Layer by layer I build up the opacity of the rest of the colors. I like acrylic in that it stays where you put it, unlike watercolor which kinda smudges around…at least when I do it. So yeah! I take that until the piece has all its colors filled in, I'll be adding all the final lines after the IC Screens go in.

Step 2: Adding Screentones

Choosing the Y-1545, I peel the tone from the backing and gently press down the tone in the area I want to apply it, just to "tack" it in place. It will stay put if you press it down lightly, just don't push too hard or it will be a bit trickier to pull up the rest of the tone when you want to remove it. Since it's a straight line, geometric shape, I just use the top of the screen to meet the line drawn underneath. Once you get more into the tone, you can use a ruler and exact to get some straight starting points. Use an exacto blade and ruler to gently score over the line where you want your screen to end. Peel up the remaining sheet of tones and put it aside. Now it's time to trim out the shapes that have been covered!


Step 3: Trimming the Shapes

Here is where you will be revealing your "selections". You've covered up some stuff, but you can still see under the transparent screen what needs to come through. Use an exacto blade and gently score around the shapes. It's very easy to remove the film with light scoring, you don't want to cut up your painting too much, so don't use a heavy hand!


Step 4: Peel Up the Section

Here you can use the tip of your blade to peel up your selections. Don't worry if it's not exact, you can go back with a black pen after. Though if you want precision, just go slow and be patient. Listen to some slower music, maybe something you'd hold up a lighter to at an 80's hair band concert!


Step 5: Stick

So now you've got your IC Screens layer in and they're tacked down just enough for you to adjust them a bit if you need to, but now you're sure it's where you want it. Make sure it stays there! Use a piece of clean scrap paper (I grabbed a fresh piece of computer paper). If you don't have a fancy burnishing tool, grab a spoon. Lay down the paper over the tone and press down on the spoon, rubbing it over your screentoned area, maybe making little "wax-on wax-off" circles until you're sure Mr. Miyagi would be happy with how well that screen is going to stay put. It's still possible to pull up if you REALLY wanted to…but it won't be fun and you might end up leaving little stab marks around the tone in your painting.


Step 5: Rinse & Repeat

Now that you've got the basics of simple geometric shapes, lay them in as much as you want. Be creative and outrageous!


Step 5: Custom Shapes

Since the screens are transparent you can easily cut custom shapes to go over other areas. Make sure you really stick down the screens over paints. Sometimes they don't adhere as well as they do directly onto unpainted parts. In this step I'm using Y-1534.


Step 5: Clean Up

You can go back over with a pen to clean up any of the shapes or mistakes where screens may not have adhered for you.


Step 5: Accessorize

I like to use gel pens. Some will need some dry time going over the screens so be patient and careful not to smudge the gel pen lines!


Step 5: Spray

Here's the final! I would suggest spray fix and after that's dry (you don't want to smear any gel pen/graphite you may have used) seal it with Mod Podge or another brush on sealer to make sure the screens stay down. Use a soft brush and soft strokes so no screens pull up (little pointy parts are tricky). Also, make sure you seal the edges so no screens pull up from the edges. Now you have an original! Scan it into your computer and show the world!



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Topics: Illustration

Sara Richard
Sara Richard on May 8, 2017

I love to create and when I’m not making art I’m daydreaming of future pieces. I love to paint strange juxtapositions and sustained, borderline-awkward eye contact. I’m constantly trying to visualize in an illustration what can’t be seen in the real world. Painting wind is my favorite. I feel you can’t ever have enough colors in your art. That is what the Mesiah Lisa Frank taught me when I was a wee-nut.